Muhammad would at first seem an insignificant historical figure, but he turned the Arabs into a force to be reckoned with and created one of the most compelling and attractive of religions, Islam.

I. Career of Mohammed

A. Birth/marriage to Khadijah

B. Visions/early conversions

C. Flight from Mecca to Medina (Hegira)

D. War with Mecca

E. Death of Muhammad

II. Moslem strengths

A. Koran

B. Five Pillars

1. Faith

a. Basic beiefs

b. Easy conversion (Shahadah)

c. Moslem Eschatology

2. Prayer

a. Public prayer

b. Prayer in Mosque

c. Other uses of Mosque

3. Fasting (during Ramadan)

4. Alms

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj)

6.  (!) Jihad (Holy War)

III. Moslem Expansion, led by Caliphs

A. Syria and Iraq (633)

B.  Egypt (639)

C. Persia (640)

D. Spain (711)

E. Byzantium (1453--and almost many times before)

IV. Reasons for Moslem success

A. Mutual destruction of Persia/Byzantium

B. Half-hearted Christian resistance

1. religious division among Christians

2. Moslem tolererance of Christians

3. Incentive to conversion: taxes!

C. Ability to combine best of Persia, Greece, Rome

D. Exceptionally able leaders (Umar, Mu'awijah)

E. Moslem success (!)

F. Ability to absorb converts/transform opponents

G. Advantages of Moslem law

H. Islam exactly what human beings want in a religion


 Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him. (Surah 62:1-4).

And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (Surah 5:45).

As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an examplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise. But whoso repenteth after his wrong doing and amendeth, lo! Allah will relent toward him. Allah is forgiving, merciful. (Surah 5:38-39).

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excell the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great. And if you fear a breach between them twain (the man and wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Aware. (Surah 4:34-35).

Allah would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak. O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you. (Surah 4:28-29).

"We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger"--they slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and Lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof...they slew him not, for certain. (Surah 4:157-158).

Fight in the path of God with those who fight with you;--but exceed not; verily God loveth not those who exceed.--And kill them wheresoever ye find them, and thrust them out from whence they thrust you out; for dissent is worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they fight you there, but if they fight you, then kill them: such is the reward of the infidels! But if they desist, then verily God is forgiving and merciful.--But fight them till there be no dissent, and the worship be only to God;--but, if they desist, then let there be no hostility save against transgressors.